The Power of Female Resilience
An entrancing tour de force, Vox Lux grips the viewer/listener from start to finish. From emerging director/writer, Brady Corbet (The Childhood of a Leader), this film captures the power of female resilience in the form of a seemingly delicate young woman, Celeste, portrayed by the captivating Raffey Cassidy (young Celeste), and the ingenious Natalie Portman (adult Celeste). The illusion of delicacy doesn't last long, as Corbet takes us through each chapter of her journey, repeatedly using lingering, close-range shots to highlight the strength and resilience of both Celeste and the women around her.
As the protagonist begins her transformation from mundane teenager to striking pop star, the viewer/listener is consistently left with a feeling of disquiet--verging on discomfort--with the monstrous aspects of our society that she must endure, aided in no small part by the poignant score (Scott Walker and Sia). Yet at every juncture--whether dealing with violence, invasion of privacy, deception, or manipulation--Celeste carries herself with unapologetic hope and magnanimity. Her monologues (delivered with biting self-assurance by both Cassidy and Portman) serve to bring a voice to women who often feel victimized by male violence, dominance, and presumption. Even Celeste's manager, deftly portrayed by Jude Law, seems more easily derailed than his client. That's not to say that Celeste suppresses her emotions; there are several pivotal moments where she unleashes her fury and despair with the selfish, mean-spirited nature of our society. These reactions are shown to be justified, as they are in response to those who detract from her ultimate goal: to provide her audience and the world with a positive atmosphere, where pain is effortlessly eliminated, and all they have to do is focus on her voice.
From the Latin, meaning "light voice," Corbet's Vox Lux provides exactly that: a gritty, yet seamless look at the hope and triumph that arise when the dark underbelly of our society is struck with a beam of light in the shape of a woman's voice.